B.Sc.G.Sc.(Hons.)-Geophysics Tim Hayward

Tim hayward climbing in the rocks while hiking.

What is your current career / title?
Geophysicist in Training at Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil Canada. I’m working on offshore oil exploration and currently focused on areas east of Newfoundland, Canada. Most of my work involves reflection seismic interpretation.

How did you become interested in your field?
First became interested in geology in high school due to a very passionate and bright teacher (Mr. Richard Humphrey) and then was first exposed to geophysics at the U of M and later UBC. I found geophysics to be the perfect intersection of earth science and math/physics; both of which I found fascinating.

What opportunities made a difference for you and your chosen field in your university experience?
My most important experiences at U of M were Geophysics Field School and the Undergraduate Thesis program. Both of these opportunities taught me how to research/work ‘in the real world’ where data isn’t perfect and not everything goes according to plan. Another very important opportunity was to get research/work experience as a summer student both at the U of M and later in industry.

How do you apply the skills and experience you gained while at the U of M?
The skills I learned at the U of M are the backbone of the work I do today. The program at U of M is set up very well to teach the important earth-science fundamentals that are required to later transition into whatever research/industry you might end up in.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
Being tasked to solve difficult and complex problems with various types of datasets. Geology and geophysics are very multi-disciplinary in nature and being able to integrate different, and often conflicting, datasets is challenging but very rewarding. On top of the geoscience side, being able to then integrate with experts in other fields (e.g., engineering, business, etc.) is also exciting because you’re then able to see the important affect that geoscience has on the overall decisions that are being made. 

Is there any advice you’d like to give students, either as they begin their degree or as they are preparing to graduate?
An important concept for me was to keep as many doors open as I could and to gain experience in as many aspects of geoscience (and other fields) as possible. I was pretty sure I wanted to work on geophysics in some capacity, but wasn’t sure whether that would be in academia, environmental, mining, oil and gas, etc. If you’re beginning your degree, I’d say to try a variety of courses. If a course sounds interesting and you don’t know a lot about it, give it a try! You never know if it will turn out to be your passion, and if nothing else having that secondary knowledge will help one way or another down the road. The U of M earth-sciences programs are set up well to provide this breadth of knowledge, so take advantage of that! Even if an opportunity (research, job, etc.) isn’t exactly what you thought you were looking for, it’s likely worth it to give it a go.

B.Sc. Geological Sciences - Geology Alex Chojno

Alex Chojno in front of a rocky outcrop on a mountain

Alexander Chojno [B.Sc.G.Sc.(Maj.), 2014] is currently a Resource Geologist with Newmont Goldcorp.  His interest in geology began with listening to a passionate high school geography teacher. The stories he told about work and travel opportunities within the geology industry sounded exciting and appealing. While working in summers and after graduation, he has found variety and a range of technical development opportunities even within the same company.  However, he adds, “it is not uncommon to move around between smaller companies after graduation before gaining experience with a major producer.”  
Alex enjoys the opportunities to put a variety of skills to use and learn new ones and is finding the people he works with an enjoyable resource. “The dynamic working environment and the people I interact with are the most enjoyable aspects of the career. There are quite a few career paths within geology and always people willing to provide help along the way.”
Alex advises current students to carefully consider the important people skills one can gain from university experiences, beyond the technical academic ones. “Equally important are the interpersonal skills and relationships developed through working with peers and speaking with professors. Technical skills will only go so far without effective communication and teamwork.” He encourages students to work on resumes early and not be afraid to apply for summer work experience in the industry or government, since these can lead right into a career after graduation. He adds, “Geology and mining are small communities. Networking and developing a good work ethic can open up a surprising amount of doors in a geology career.”

B.Sc. Geological Sciences - Geology Linda Murphy

Linda Murphy standing outside the Wallace building in winter.

What is your current career / title?
Linda Murphy, B.Sc., P.Geo. Senior Manager, Community Relations, Exploration Team Canada, Yamana Gold Inc.

What is your job description, and what does a typical day look like, if there is one?
As a member of the exploration team, my main goals are to communicate the company activities to nearby First Nations and build a trusting relationship between Company staff and Indigenous Peoples.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
My best times are when I am in a First Nation showing people the geology found in their territory and at the same time learning about what is important to them too.

How did you become interested in your field / inspiration?
I became a geologist because I have always been very curious about the rocks I walked on. As a child I was constantly gathering rocks for my collection, especially the fossils found in limestone where I grew up. As an adult I was very much inspired and encouraged by the people in the geology department of a mine where I worked.

How would you describe your career path?
A few twists and turns. I had a lot of work experience before I went to university because I completed my B.Sc while I was in my 40s. After my degree, my career was pretty straightforward as a field geologist for the Manitoba government; however my first shift in that career was when I began working as a Community liaison geologist focused on building geology and mining awareness with First Nations located in Manitoba. This lead me into becoming an Indigenous policy person for our Mineral Resource department. The development of meaningful relationships between the Mineral Industry and Indigenous Peoples combines geology and my personal identity as an Indigenous woman. Therefore I use my geological and cultural knowledge set to more and more focus on a collaborative model of engagement between the Mineral Industry and the Indigenous Peoples in whose territories our company is performing mineral exploration activities.
What faculty member or course had the greatest impact on you?
I absolutely loved geomorphology, basins and sedimentology and the processes of sediments and water flow.

What was a proud or memorable moment at the U of M?
Moving into the study carrels in the Wallace building. I was an older student and an Indigenous woman, this space and the other students gave me a sense of belonging and welcome. I am forever grateful for the acceptance, bonding and true friendships with the students who attended University with me.

How do you apply the skills and experience you gained while at the U of M?
Many of the courses, especially in 3rd and 4h year embeds the importance of communication. My favorite instructor and person in the faculty has been Karen Ferreira who taught Communications. It was one of the most work intensive courses but being able to communicate geology in a clear and understandable manner has been most valuable in my career.

What opportunities in your university experience made a difference for you and your career?
The Clayton Riddell building is unique; student carrels are large enough to accommodate most of the students and located in close proximity to the faculty staff. This inclusive environment creates an atmosphere that is welcoming and productive. Students with each other and with the faculty form a bond and I believe the networking in the room as we moved through our years of study has always been a factor in the success of our graduates. We form a small but very inclusive network.
Is there any advice you’d like to give students, either as they begin their degree or as they are preparing to graduate?  
You will learn when more every time you engage. I asked a question in a class and the professor gave the answer. I was astonished when at least three students from the room thanked me, they had all had the same question but had been too scared to ask. Don’t be scared to ask questions. Don’t be scared to fail either, just keep trying and you will get it right.

B.A. Geography Alyssa Vaters

Alyssa edwards outside.

What is your current career title ? 
GIS professional / GIS Team Lead

What is your job description? 
I work with a GIS database, some scripting in SQL, creation of layouts in GIS software, creating and modifying layers and symbologies in GIS software. I train staff on new GIS practises.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
That each day isn't the same! There is always more to learn and discover. Working with GIS is also fun because it is a mix of creativity with technical skills. GIS is a field that is found in most sectors including engineering, city planning, environmental planning and more! It's a great field for those who want to be able to work in all sorts of different sectors.

How do you apply the skills and experience you gained while at the U of M?
I took my first GIS course at UofM when completing my BA in Geography, which led me to fall in love with GIS and continue to take the GIS Graduate Certificate at COGS (Center of Geographic Sciences) in Nova Scotia. I also took a cartography course when I was at UofM and I use the skills I learned from that on almost a daily basis when selecting colours, fonts, etc. for maps.

Any advice for current students?
My biggest piece of advice is just because you don't like something in school doesn't mean you won't like that in a job! During school my least favourite subject was SQL and now it's my favourite part of each day.

B.Envrionmental Studies (Hons) - Co-op Lisa Bergen

Lisa bergen standing on the ice in front of a bombadier, holding a fish.

What is your current title?
I am a Manager in the Consultation and Reconciliation Branch with the Manitoba government’s department of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations.

What is your job description, and what does a typical day look like, if there is one?
I am primarily responsible for ensuring consistent implementation of Section 35 consultation and accommodation with Indigenous communities. I facilitate a three-day training for civil servants engaging or consulting with Indigenous communities. I maintain a network of consultation practitioners and provide ongoing support to lead departments consulting or engaging with Indigenous communities. I am also responsible for managing multiple boards established to co-manage natural resources in a defined area under respective settlement agreements intended to resolve the adverse affects of hydro-electric development projects in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

How did you become interested in your field?
As a proud member of the Red River Métis Nation, I have always been interested in the intersections of people and the environment. I took an interest in natural resource management because I have experience and a family history of commercial fishing, ranching, trapping and exercising rights in and around St. Ambroise and Lake Manitoba. In high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Kananaskis, Alberta. The trip featured a guided hike by a University of Calgary Professor who exposed me to ecosystem concepts, conservation, and the fields of environmental and natural resource management.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
I love that there are always continuous learning opportunities for personal and professional growth. My work is very intellectually stimulating and interdisciplinary. I enjoy working with different people on a variety of issues and topic areas.

How do you apply the skills and experience you gained while at the U of M?
I would not be where I am today without the practical experience I gained from the co-operative education program. My co-op placement with Manitoba’s Protected Areas Initiative taught me the reality of solving wicked environmental problems, how to respectfully engage diverse groups of rights-holders and stakeholders, and how best to strategically bring people together.

B.Environmental Studies - Co-op Heather Webb

Heather Webb, in front of a rocky coast.

What is your current title?
Heather Webb, EPt, Project Manager and Environmental Planner, Narratives Inc.
Narratives is a Winnipeg-based consulting firm specializing in Indigenous planning & design, impact assessment, research and analysis and capacity building services. My work is in the areas of impact assessment, environmental permitting, land management, community planning and development, capacity-building, trauma-informed research and training, traditional knowledge studies, and policy analysis.

What is your job description, and what does a typical day look like, if there is one?
As a project manager, my role includes overseeing my projects, including their progress and budgets, meeting with clients, and supporting my team in their tasks. But it really goes far beyond that as well. On any given day, I’m in meetings with clients to discuss projects, meeting with my colleagues, writing, and strategizing and planning! I also spend a lot of my time on the road, which is my favourite part (along with rummaging through our office snack drawer). Usually every month, I am out with the communities that I work with in their home territories, discussing our projects and meeting with community members. I could be doing interviews, mapping, or be somewhere out on the land. This part is most special to me, as it allows me to go beyond the four walls of my office and to be with a community putting a project into action and building relationships.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
I enjoy how dynamic it is, and how closely our team works together to problem solve. Whether I’m in the office or in the field, there’s always something to learn from someone. I also enjoy, and take great pride in, the different approach that Narratives takes on our projects. Our work is grounded in reciprocity and pushing the boundaries of research, policy, planning, and practice. In a world where we typically do something because “that’s the way it’s always been done” it’s refreshing and rewarding to rewrite the script. And of course, the centre of our work is building and maintaining meaningful relationships with the communities we work with, which is what I really enjoy the most.

How do you apply the skills and experience you gained while at the U of M?
One of the most valuable experiences for me at the U of M was the Co-Op program. This program set me up for success and gave me valuable skills (such as networking and interviewing) that I used to secure each of my employment opportunities. It was also great to work within different sectors to figure out where I could best see myself in the future. My journey with Narratives actually began as a summer co-op placement and led to a full-time position that I’m still enjoying and growing with four years later.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
As a university student, it can be easy to get caught up in the motions and purely focus on your classes and grades. This is important, but it’s also important to take other opportunities as the come up. Getting involved with student council, taking different work placements, networking, and travelling with the community service learning office all gave me very unique and valuable experiences that enhanced my coursework. Don’t be afraid to try something new, take a fun elective, or do a semester abroad, it’ll only help you!

B.Environmental Science - Co-op Harris Manzoor

Harris manzoor in a sharp suit.

What is your current career / title?
Policy Analyst with the Government of Canada

What is your job description, and what does a typical day look like, if there is one?
Each day at work brings new opportunities to learn more and challenges me to think outside the box. Depending on the department, working as a Policy Analyst means researching and analyzing current and emerging issues in Canada and how they affect specific populations (BIPOC, Indigenous Peoples, and other marginalized groups). Much of my work involves collaborating with internal and external stakeholders to find ways to work towards common goals. The best part of my job is networking with different groups and attending conferences to learn more about policy issues and initiatives, and working across sectors to better serve Canadians by developing policies and improving programs.

How did you become interested in your field / inspiration?
COVID-19 was an eye-opener for me as I began to notice the disproportionate impact on different communities. As frustrating as it was, I wanted to learn more about social determinants of health and the impact of policies on marginalized populations. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Health Evaluation program at the University of Waterloo, where I hope to learn more evaluation techniques to analyze and improve programs across sectors. Through my lived experience and research, I have also come to realize the importance of intersectionality in the shaping of an individual's life, which can lead to prejudice and stigma.

How would you describe your career path?
As lost as I felt on my way to graduation, the co-op program gave me a sense of direction and the support I needed to navigate the professional world. In terms of having a set career plan, sometimes not having one allows you to be flexible and open to opportunities that may come your way. Most of the skills you gain are highly transferable anyway, which allows you to move and grow.

Is there any advice you’d like to give students, either as they begin their degree or as they are preparing to graduate? 
It's normal to feel lost and overwhelmed at the beginning of your studies with so many options to choose from. Give yourself time to reflect and do consider your interests. Researching courses and majors is helpful before choosing a major. I always tell aspiring students to not rush to complete your degree and about the importance of making meaningful connections with your professors and peers

If you want to gain relevant work experience, start researching the industry and exploring job opportunities long before you graduate. Many positions are exclusive to students, and enrolling in a co-op program can help you explore some of the industries and connect with professionals.

B.Environmental Science, M.Env. Natalie Baird

Natalie baird outside.

Natalie Baird

Natalie Baird is a B.Environmental Science and M.Environment graduate and a visual artist. She completed a participatory research project in Pangnirtung, Nunavut that used video and arts-based methods to document and communicate Inuit perspectives of changing oceans. Natalie also works at Art City Inc. as the film photography instructor and at the Misericordia Health Centre as an artist-in-residence.

She first became interested in Inuit culture through Inuit art, and in 2016 travelled to Baffin Island to conduct surveys with Nunavummiut for the Canadian Census. Shortly after Natalie began work with the Arctic component of Ocean Canada, a national SSHRC funded partnership that is supporting coastal communities as they respond to rapid and uncertain changes. She particularly credits the travel and field courses in the Riddell Faculty for inspiring her. The travel course to Clearwater, Manitoba was: “a major turning point. I was really inspired by the farmers, community members, and Elders that we heard from in Clearwater, and how their voices could be part of academic conversations.” Although she describes her career path as “meandering”, her many positions and interests have all contributed to her current research. To again quote Natalie: “I’ve always felt connected to land and community, as well as creative ways to think and talk about those connections. Community-based work and research can be very challenging. I am lucky to work with so many amazing people that give me the energy that has kept me coming back”.

B.SC. Physical Geography Alan Ng

Alan Ng stands in front of his Air Force - Environment and Hazardous Materials booth.

Alan Ng (B.Sc.Ph.G.(Maj.), Co-op, 2013) is a Wing Environment and Hazmat Officer for the Department of National Defence.

Participating in the co-op program helped open some opportunities and show Alan career options that prioritize his passion for protecting natural resources. After doing conservation and enforcement in the program, a co-op placement in government provided the gateway to his current employment at Defence Establishments, managing the hazardous material programs.

“Working in the government widens my exposure, vision, experience, and connections worldwide and many places in the country. The job allows me to travel to many remote areas and many of the locations are undisturbed pristine nature with lots of rare wildlife and plant species.”

Read more about Alan’s story in the Student Profile in the April 2013 newsletter


B.Sc. Physical Geography, M.Sc. Scott Kehler

Scott kehler outside wearing a nice suit.

Scott Kehler [B.Sc. Ph.G.(Hons.) 2015 and M.Sc. Environment and Geography 2017] is currently Chief Scientist at Weatherlogics Inc., a Winnipeg-based meteorological consulting firm that he co-founded. He became interested in weather at a young age, and like many people, found weather to be a fascinating yet frightening phenomenon. He was also frustrated by the lack of good weather information that was a catalyst for his pursuit of knowledge. “Unlike many university students I knew exactly what I wanted to study in university and completed my degrees on time without second-guessing myself. Near the end of my undergraduate education I knew I wanted to pursue graduate studies, so I transitioned straight from being an undergraduate student to a graduate student without even taking a break. When I was near the end of my master’s program I had already decided to enter the private sector and started a business immediately after completing my thesis”.

Scott took the opportunity to participate in research work as an undergraduate student in a field study of lake breezes in Manitoba and later in his graduate work, when he travelled to Kansas to take part in a major, International field project looking at thunderstorms. These two experiences solidified his interest in meteorology and research exposed him to the world of leading edge science.

Scott uses his research skills and education from the University of Manitoba at work every day. His job of analyzing, diagnosing, and predicting weather, fills that gap in weather information that he observed at a young age. “I simply enjoy the fact that I’m able to do what I love every day. My job barely feels like work, and as a self-employed person, I also have the freedom to work on whatever projects I think make the most sense, which is just another bonus to a career that I already love”.

B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D. CJ Mundy

CJ mundy looking out over ice cover.

Dr. C. J. Mundy [ PhD 2007; MA 2000; BSc 1997] is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environment and Geography and the Centre for Earth Observation Science at the University of Manitoba focusing on Arctic Biological Oceanography.

Growing up in Manitoba's northern nickel mining city, Thompson, he developed a strong appreciation of the outdoors and particularly, the cold continental climate. To him, cold temperatures lead to snow, ice, and inevitably fun, whether building a snow fort, or gliding over the snow and ice with skates, sleds, skis, and snowboards. C.J. also grew up with a fascination of wildlife TV shows which propelled his need to understand how organisms survive and flourish in cold harsh environments.

C.J. points to three opportunities that helped steer him to where he is today. The first was his BSc honours supervisor, Dr. Brenda Hann, who helped introduce him to research and provided him with a foundation in Aquatic Ecology. The second opportunity came in the form of Dr. David Barber, who offered him the opportunity to study snow and sea ice in the Arctic during the final year of his undergraduate degree, and following C. J. went on to do a Master's and PhD with Dr. Barber. The third opportunity came during his Masters' degree when, while participating in the North Water Polynya project  in 1998, C.J. met Dr. Michel Gosselin who introduced him to a unique community of algae that grow within the sea ice. C.J. later undertook a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Gosselin's laboratory in Rimouski, Quebec.

"Although there are a lot of highs and lows in an academic career path, the highs vastly outweighed the lows".  He particularly enjoys that in an academic career you never stop learning, and that learning can from many sources. He notes that "we learn both from teaching (mentoring) and by being mentored, at all levels of our careers".